East Hartford – Jim Mora will meet the UConn football team for the first time as head coach at 9 a.m. on Sunday.

It is on fire and ready to take off.

Its long list of things to do stretches from Stamford to Storrs.

“I can’t wait to talk to these players,” Mora said on Saturday morning after his official introductory press conference ahead of UConn’s 45-17 loss to No.19 Houston at Rentschler Field. “And then we’ll have the opportunity to announce our staff. And then we’re going to hit the road and we’re going to recruit like crazy.

“I can’t wait to get to know our current players better and assimilate our staff into our community. So I don’t think there is anything that I am not looking forward to. You talk about being rejuvenated, rejuvenated and passionate, I can I can’t remember ever feeling that in my life from a professional point of view. It’s just amazing. “

That says a lot when you consider that Mora’s impressive resume includes 31 years of coaching experience at the NFL and college levels.

Mora will need a lot of energy, enthusiasm, passion, patience and coaching skills to turn around a program that has suffered 10 straight losing seasons, including 1-11 this fall.

Since the announcement of his hiring on November 11, Mora has not been idle. He has been an assistant coach while focusing primarily on recruiting and program evaluation. He plans to rebuild himself through recruitment and will complete the list through the transfer portal.

Mora has tried to be as low-key as possible out of respect for the current staff and players. He took to the pitch in the second half of games to get a feel for the energy and to assess whether the players are still emotionally invested. He spent time in the dining room with the players.

“I look at this team and these players and I see young men who really care,” said Mora. “They haven’t thrown in the towel. I see a lot of character and I see talent that can be developed. I think what’s important is that we just create a mindset on this team. football and this culture in this program that leads to success. “

Another goal of Mora is to get out into the community and beyond.

He attended sporting events and UConn’s group rehearsals, visited Governor Ned Lamont, and watched two high school games including the Thanksgiving battle between Norwich Free Academy and New London.

He really enjoyed his first NFA-New London game.

“First of all, it was an amazing and beautiful walk and being right on the water’s edge,” said Mora, who lives near the UConn campus. “I’m standing there on the sidelines and I’m like ‘this is really awesome.’ I’m at a high school game in Connecticut, which is the oldest rivalry game in our country, on Thanksgiving Day. was really cool.

He also prioritized developing relationships with the state’s high school football community, as well as retaining top talent in the state.

Eighteen players on this season’s roster are from Connecticut.

“This is the public school,” Mora said. “We’re going to build something special. Players who fit our profile and have the ability, this is where they should dream of coming. When they are little, they should be passionate about the potential of playing UConn. They should be running in the streets in UConn jerseys. “

With that in mind, Mora reached out to high school coaches across the state. He invited them to attend clinics, visit practices, attend staff and player meetings.

“I think I have a lot to learn from them, not only about our state and our high school and football preparation in our state, but also about football,” said Mora. “I have found that there are great coaches at all levels. I think there are pearls of wisdom everywhere. So it is extremely important that we involve the Connecticut high school football coaches and that we get them involved and make them feel welcome so that when they have a good football player they will feel safe and comfortable sending them to UConn. “

This will obviously not be a quick fix.

UConn is one of the worst Subdivision Bowl Football teams in the country. The Huskies have won just four games and lost 32 in the past three seasons.

Mora takes up the challenge. He once ran a college program, running the show at UCLA. In his six years, he was 46-30 overall and led the Bruins to the 2012 Pac-12 South Championship and two bowl wins.

“Whether it’s hiking, climbing, skinning or mountain biking, whatever it is, I love going up slopes,” Mora said. “I like tough things. Hard things motivate me. It’s just another chance to keep climbing a hill. I love this opportunity.”

So what will Mora’s success look like at UConn?

“Success takes many forms,” he said. “Definitely on the pitch it means a competitive and nationally respected football team. It also means our student-athletes graduate and graduate and develop other passions and other paths to success outside. from the football field.

“In terms of a timeline, I’m not going to stick to a timeline. I’m going to say that every day we’re going to take one more step towards improvement.”

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